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Columbian communist who was unable to extricate himself from neo-revisionist line

By Harsh Thakor*  

Jaime Rangel was a manifestation of all the great Marxist teachers. He dipped the pen at the superlative height like no other in defence of revolutionary Marxism: against the open attacks of the bourgeois intelligentsia at patronising organised exploitation, against the distortions of the revisionists and social democrats, against the quacks of this dying system, which only offered hunger, misery, war and death.
He made an outstanding contribution in the theoretical struggle revolving around Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and against revisionism, that was developed in the public debates and in the process of preparation of the Unified Maoist International Conference, as well as in its later stage, since the foundation of the International Communist League in December 2022. His premature death is an irreparable loss for the International Communist Movement.
At it’s helm he raised high the red flag of the revolution from Contradicción magazine , at a time when the imperialist reaction declared for the umpteenth time the extinguishing of communism, capitalising on the collapse of social imperialism in the late 1980s.
He enabled important conclusions from the work of Contradiction to make the Program of the Revolution in Colombia blossom, thus equipping the proletariat with a scientific program which it had never had before:.Surely there are hundreds of articles written by Jaime Rangel, a large part of the editorial line of Revolución Obrera, that voice of the Unión Obrera Comunista and of the exploited and oppressed, our voice, from where he illuminated the conscience of the dispossessed bringing the clarity of the orientation to face enemies, warn of the traps of false friends and disdain the siren songs of sincere but mistaken friends.
Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Jaime Rangel observed the Bolshevik qualities in him from the beginning; that is, the upright communist: staunch enemy of the exploiting classes and a mascot for the masses of workers and peasants whom he always treated with immense affection, which did not prevent him, however, from criticizing errors and correcting his own, as well as setting example and always, always, implementing decisions made with relentless discipline and unflinching party spirit, face adversity. Very few of us in the International Communist Movement were fortunate to have someone as exceptional as Rangel, who will continue to live among us.

Life story and Contribution

Jaime Rangel was born in Bogotá on July 18, 1950, into a family of workers who originated from the countryside. His first critical ideas were received in a Catholic school, because the teachers were priests influenced by liberation theology. In that school life in his last years of high school he was influenced by the Peking Informa magazine that came from China, and this incited various philosophical and economic concerns with his classmates; Although his first questions were towards religion, , even at that time he had not adopted Marxism as a world view.
After college, he had the opportunity to enter the National University to study engineering, and his admission to the university took amidst much social and political turbulence. It was the 1960s, in May 1968, the student movement erupted worldwide, the national liberation war in Vietnam was shimmering, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in and red flags fluttering in naxalbari.
In Colombia it was the time of the government of Carlos Lleras Restrepo in the National Front, and the struggle of the peasant, student and worker movement was in full swing. Jaime Rangel as a student he participated in demonstrations supporting the liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples of Indochina; against North American imperialism that entered Colombia with greater force with the educational reform, for example, promoted by the national government and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. The government of the “progressive” Lleras Restrepo launched merciless repression to all these demonstrations of struggle and combative discontent of the students, closing the university on two occasions.
At the time, the main leftist polaristaion in the country were between the Guevarist current sympathetic to the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Maoist current or ML sympathetic to the Chinese revolution and which was organized around the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist -Leninist) or the Independent and Revolutionary Workers Movement (MOIR) today Dignity. Rangel in his first semesters participated together with his university classmates in these demonstrations of struggle in a spontaneous, unorganized way.
He gathered ideas from both currents of the time, and also knew s people linked to both of those currents, finally supporting Maoism (to the Marxist-Leninists as they were called at that time) since he considered that they not only had the political prestige at that time of the Chinese cultural revolution and the Russian revolution, but also because of the communist influence that came from the people's war of the peoples of Indochina, in addition to the fact that a large organization such as the PCC ML and its Popular Liberation Army (EPL) was in Colombia. In addition to this, he was impressed by the far more analytical theoretical and political coherence of the Marxist-Leninists than that of the Guevarists.
In addition, a large organization such as the PCC ML and its Popular Liberation Army (EPL) were in Colombia. In addition to this, he was influenced by the much more constructive and lucid theoretical and political coherence of the Marxist-Leninists than that of the Guevarists. In addition, a large organization such as the PCC ML and its Popular Liberation Army (EPL) were in Colombia.
At the beginning of the 70s Rangel was associated to a group called “Unión Proletaria” where he received his first baptism in Marxist training in a more systematic way. There the ideological training was rigorous, especially in the study of the classics of Marxism.. He was in this organization for a short duration due to disagreements about whether the political work should be undertaken mainly in the city or the countryside. Together with other comrades they withdrew from the circle and founded a new one called the "Maoist Union", here he began to work politically in the worker, peasant and neighborhood sectors and came into contact with the independent trade union movement, the most combative at that time together with with the peasant movement organized in the National Association of Peasant Users – ANUC.
Jaime Rangel, followed the teachings of Chairman Mao by integrating with with the masses. So he was joined the peasant movement, particularly doing work in the Tequendama region in the department of Cundinamarca. The work was not only to penetrate revolutionary ideas of the MLs to the peasants and promote groups to study Marxism, but also to organize them in committees of peasant users linked to the ANUC, this as part of preparation for the National Campesino Congress that was held in 1973 and in which the he also participated together with the peasants that he had been organizing. With this job in ANUC, the Maoist Union and Jaime Rangel came into contact with PCC ML militants who were peasant cadres and held leading positions within ANUC.
In the trade union field, they participated in the “Fermín Amaya” Inter-Union Committee that united the independent trade union sectors in Bogotá. In addition to having organized work in some poor neighborhoods of the city.
Although he was still part of the university, he gradually withdrew, and began to devote his time mainly to his time energies to revolutionary work, functioned as a proletarian, in the same way that several of his comrades did, integrating with workers in path that was given from China during the Cultural Revolution.
As a means of living, Jaime Rangel went to share with his other comrades and couples in forms of collective housing that they called "communes", gathered in various families of revolutionaries in large houses, where with the work of some they could support as revolutionary professionals to others of them, of course that way of life broke with the bourgeois family standards of the time.
By 1974 the PCC ML split into three, which had an impact on the labour movement, and the Maoist Union, which was Rangel's circle, did not evade it. After learning about the positions of each one through meetings with the three factions, the Maoist Union decided to establish relations with what became known as the ML Proletarian Line, which had a sounder and more coherent position with the ML than the others. two fractions: the fraction of the Central Committee (CC) that continued to retain the PCC ML name and the one known as the MLM Tendency. In this way, Rangel became a member of the Proletarian Line. That same year (1974) the Proletarian Line decided to start the work of reorganizing the Party in some cities of the country.
However, the Proletarian Line was eclectic, in the context of the restoration of capitalism in China, which led to its dissolution, leaving him an orphan of organization. But he did not sit idly by and together with other comrades they founded the magazine La Clave , a short-lived, very ephemeral magazine that saw the light of 3 basically annual issues during the years of 1983, 84 and 85.
It must be said that the contribution of this magazine, despite its few editions, was very important. La Clave number 2 published the article About the enigmatic tactical objective of the MUR ML Revolutionary Unification Movement, written by Rangel together with Luján, a deceased indigenous comrade, who signs as López and Aricapa. Both in number 2 and number 3 of La Clave the draft program carried out by the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, began to be published, which was the basis of the First International Conference of Marxist-Leninists held in the fall of 1980, which would later give life to the Movement in 1984 Revolutionary Internationalist (MRI). So this magazine also had an internationalist character in which Jaime Rangel was an architect. In addition, La Clave was the predecessor of Contradicción Magazine , in which once again he plays a prominent role, since its founding in 1989.
The magazine Contradicción published 20 issues, which you can find on the Revolución Obrera digital portal , with an intense theoretical and programmatic struggle, with articles in defense of Marxism, with articles analyzing the character of Colombian society, with important political, ideological and economic analyzes. , articles about imperialism... in short, a treasure house that is part of the history of the communists in Colombia and in the world and from which the book Marxism Leninism Maoism: Science of the Proletarian Revolution was born , which had basically been published by parts in the first issues of Contradicción , the first edition being published as a book in 1995.
Amongst his major theoretical work, the Groups of Communist Workers (GOCS) was an important contribution.. Another of his important works was to summarize the entire volume of 19 issues of Contradiction , in which different comrades wrote and contributed, in what is known as the Program for the Revolution in Colombia , which represents the most serious advance in programmatic matters. for the revolution in this country, making an analysis of the character of Colombian society, of imperialism and of the revolutionary tasks to be carried out; program adopted in the first Assembly of the Communist Workers' Union (mlm) – UOC (mlm) and published as number 20 of Contradicción .
As a continuation of this process towards the Party in Colombia, Rangel founded UOC (mlm) in 1998, contributed in the newspaper Revolución Obrera, in the theoretical magazines Denial of Denial and in the direction of all the issues, not only ideologically and theoretically, but also as a practical leader being part of his work, and for a long time, political head of the UOC (mlm).
Countering the counter-revolutionary campaign that broke out after the temporary defeat of socialism in Russia and China, refuting the reactionary arguments of social democrats and opportunists and defending the scientific theory of the proletariat, was the objective of the work of Jaime Rangel. 


Jaime Rangel was unable to extricate himself from the eclectic or neo-revisionist line of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement which prematurely advocated forming a Communist International or left adventurist line of Gonzalo thought formulated by the International Communist League, which classified theory of protracted people’s war as Universal or applicable even to developed countries and advocated militarisation of the party. He could not perceive how pro-Gonzalo forces were delinking Maoism from Leninism.
*Freelance journalist



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